Sophomores Risper Kimaiyo and Elkana Rotich ran away with individual titles at the 2010 Conference USA Cross Country Championships at the Indian Springs Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., on Monday morning.
Kimaiyo became the third female in league history to win back-to-back titles defending the crown with a personal best of 16:27 in the women’s 5K leading the women for a third-place team finish. The All-American crossed the finish line six seconds faster than second place Paula Whiting (Tulsa) posting the fastest championship time recorded. Tulane’s Hanne Lyngstad had the previous best of 16:43 set in 1999. With the men’s title, Rotich became the third Miner to claim a C-USA championship; the men finished second. Kimaiyo and Rotich were the 2009 Conference USA Female and Male Freshman of the Year.
Kimaiyo led the women to a third place team finish with 97 points. Host Tulsa won the team title scoring 27 points, while Rice was second with 57 points.
“Every single one of our women gave their best today,” head coach Paul Ereng said. “They showed this by the times they ran, all recording personal bests.
“Tulsa and Rice competed well. Our women have been knocking on the door for a conference championship the past two years and we’re going to bust it open one of these days.”
Junior Kathya Garcia earned All-C-USA Second Team honors finishing ninth with a time of 17:07. Gladys Chumba was 15th clocking in at 17:32 and Karina Garcia was 21st with a time of 17:42 for All-C-USA Third Team accolades. Junior Kitria Stewart ran her best race of the season with a personal best of 18:38 to secure UTEP’s third-place team finish.
The men all earned a spot on the All-Conference USA Team. Tulsa regained the league title with 34 points, the Miners scored 42 points.
“Tulsa had a good day today, but I can’t tell you how happy I am to see the way our guys ran today,” Ereng said after the men’s race. “The guys also gave me everything I had asked for. We can’t complain, we’re very blessed at how this young and small team responded today.”
Rotich, who ran behind teammate Justice Chirchir for most of the race, crossed the finish line at 23:30, 11 seconds faster than second-place Chirchir (23:41). 2010 Conference USA Senior of the Year Robert Menjo was fifth with a time of 23:47. El Paso native Solomon Gardea ran the most courageous race of his career finishing 13th with a time of 24:25 to be named to the All-Conference USA Second Team. Freshman Abel Koskey posted a time of 24:44 and was named to the All-C-USA Third Team.